YA Book Prize 2015

As some people were aware, I was gently shadowing the shortlist for the YA Book Prize over the last couple of months. Like, you have no idea how happy this new shiny Prize made me; finally, there was something just for the books that counted as YA. They were not thrown in with the children’s and hidden behind the adults. No, this was theirs and theirs alone.

So these are the ten books that ended up on the shortlist.
  • A Song for Ella Grey, David Almond
  • Salvage, Keren David
  • Say Her Name, James Dawson
  • Lobsters, Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
  • Half Bad, Sally Green
  • Finding a Voice, Kim Hood
  • Only Ever Yours, Louise O’Neill
  • Goose, Dawn O’Porter
  • Trouble, Non Pratt
  • Ghosts of Heaven, Marcus Sedgwick
Now, I never finished reading them all (seriously, the irony of never having time to read because of working in a book shop is not lost on me) but I have three  at the top of my TBR list, and out of the ones I did read, I have a very clear picture of what I wanted to win.
It’s no secret that I did not like Half Bad, so that one was not on my radar. I mean, even I cringe at my review of it (I hate writing bad reviews), but that doesn’t mean I don’t think others would love it. It was a very ‘boyish’ book. Magic for men, as my mother called it.
Say Her name was a good book, but having read others on the list already, I didn’t really see why it was there. As ghost stories go, it was creepy, and entertaining to talk about at my book group (for those that have read it, we have a big just of water on the table for about five minutes, before two of the teenagers got me to move it. I’m sure some of you must have had the same reaction), but it didn’t have as much in it as the others. Those had themes of good and bad, what the world could be and how humans think. This was…just a ghost story. A well written one.
So. Lets talk about my favourite (Review in progress of this one, by the way). Ghost of Heaven!
I was first introduced to Marcus Sedgwick at the age of 12, where my father gave me the book My Swordhand is Singing for my birthday. I fell in love with it instantly, and sort out every book I could by the same author. So of course, last year, I had Ghost of Heaven in my sights the second I knew it existed (it helps that the cover is so beautiful). And I fell in love with this book too. Its so well written, so different to what you would expect, that, this, to me, was the book that should have won.
You can tell by my tone that it didn’t.
No, the winner was actually the first book that I read, right back at the start of all this.
Only Ever Yours.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this book was amazing. Like, it was so well written but also terrifying and horrifying and I don’t even have the words to talk about it even months after reading it. It raised issues in it that most people don’t want to talk about, and spoke of a world that this world could easily become (#WhyWeNeedFeminism)
But at the same time…Although I want to thrust this book into the hands of every person my age, I could not recommend this to a teenager. There is a lot in there which I would not want younger readers to read- like the whole ‘we must all be beautiful’ thing. Some people would take it at face value and not see the horrifying ends it results in, and they would think ‘I mist be like these girls. Perfect and thin and stunning and only an object for men’ (sidenote: People this is not what girls and woman are for. Just to check you do all know that. We are actually people)
So I have a mixed view on this. I did love the winning book…just not enough for it, in my eyes, to win.
Like, who judges the books as well? Who picks them? Are they adults or the Young Adults these books are meant for? Because it makes a difference. Adults read things differently. They take meanings differently. They way their brains work is different. How do they decide; and do they get people who the books are aimed at involved?
I don’t know. I have mixed feelings about the books and the prize and everything. But I will read the rest of the books and make my own mind up about them.

The Winners Curse, Marie Rutkoski

winners curse

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

It’s not hard to guess that I love fantasy books, (and romance) but I’m always slightly weary of books that have an online hype. And everywhere I looked, I seemed to see this book. So even though I had it, I put off reading it for ages.
This was half a good idea and half a bad one.
Bad idea for putting it off- 
Short answer: This book was amazing.
Long answer: Lots of books have this kind of premise. You know, where boy meets girl and they are on the wrong side and there is lots of fighting and everything? But this one is so beautifully written and so captivating it will keep you reading until you get to the last page.
I have a rule when I read. I will never stay up late when I have work the next morning. There are a few books that have broken this rule- Sarah J Maas always does, and then this one did.
One in the morning came and went. just one more chapter.
Two oclock. just one more chapter.
Three oclock – I’m three quarters through, I may as well finish it.
Quarter to 5 in the morning. Finished. I WANT THE NEXT BOOK.
The main problem I normally have with YA romance is that it appears out of no where and takes over. This doesn’t happen in The Winners Curse. The relationship between Kestrel and Arin is slow, and they (sort of) get to know each other before anything happens. I mean, you don’t even know anything will happen for ages. And then theres the fact that, although they care about each other, it is not all consuming. They still think about other things- their friends, family, their beliefs, the things that do not fit into the box of love.
The second main problem I have with…all books…is endings. I hate those ending where, although you know, actually, it wouldn’t work, everything magically stops and its all happy ever after.
I have never loved/hated an ending more for this opposite reason!
I was rooting for love in this, I really was, but it’s okay, because no one really does need their heart, do they?
This kinda leads me to why it was a good idea putting it off- because of that wait that is torture from a fantastic first book to a hopeful second. That wait is hell, staring at the calender until the publication date is finally there.
(I’m cheerful because I had an early copy of book two)
So if you love fantasy, books that rip your heart out and laugh at you, or any type of romance, I really really think you should read this book.
…Maybe, if you have restrain, wait until you can get your hands on book two at the same time. If not…*hands cake and tissue* 
Sidenote: I am currently half way through book two, the Winners Crime AND OH MY GOD ITS SO GOOD